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Running Head: What is the main cause of Juvenile Delinquency


What is the main cause of Juvenile Delinquency

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     The term juvenile delinquency itself has come to imply disgrace in today’s society. A youngster can be labeled a delinquent for breaking any one of a number of laws, ranging from robbery to running away from home. But an action for which a youth may be declared a delinquent in one community may not be against the law in another community. In some communities, the police ignore many children who are accused of minor delinquencies or refer them directly to their parents. But in other communities, the police may refer such children to a juvenile court, where they may officially be declared delinquents. Crime statistics, though they are often incomplete and may be misleading, do give an indication of the extent of the delinquency problem.

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The largest and most common risk factor is the demise of the family life and the increase in family violence. Many say that how you are raised will make you the person that you are as you grow up. So, doesn’t it make sense to say that if you are raised poorly, you would be more prone to run into problems such as crime as you grow up Between the 1970 s and early 1990 s, the number of juveniles living in poverty has grown largely for a number of reasons. This factor alone has caused a noticeable increase in crimes by juveniles. Many of these juvenile criminals also said to have been abused or neglected. For the majority, they also grew up in a single-parent household. Research has found that the majority of these children are more likely to be arrested, and are much more likely to commit a violent crime as an adult, than their counterparts who did not suffer such abuse. The reasoning for this is that psychologists have determined that the symptoms of child abuse are high levels of aggression and antisocial behavior . Another factor that has greatly attributed to juvenile crime is something that the children have no control over. This is improper parental care. Mothers who drink alcohol, take drugs, smoke cigarettes, and do other such things while they are pregnant are putting their children at high risk for problems. These drugs keep the babies from getting the nutrients they need, which in turn causes disorders in the babies. This problem is not as large now as it was twenty or thirty years ago when there was not as much known about these potential problems, but it still is a major concern when linked to the effects of using these chemicals while pregnant. The use of the products I mentioned has been linked to delinquency as the babies grow up with learning disorders. Certain parts of the juvenile s brain won t fully develop. This could impair their ability to know things such as the difference between right and wrong, good and bad, and so on. This is a problem which leads them to be juvenile criminals.

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Also, drug use among the juveniles themselves leads to higher crime. Alcohol use is widely known to cause certain people to become violent and change their personalities, which leads to crimes. Drug use can cause the same effects, but also violence can occur as the juvenile needs to support their habit with money.

One factor that hasn’t been recognized up until the past five or ten years as a reason for juvenile crime is media violence. In America, the average child will witness over 200,000 acts of violence on television, including 16,000 murders before the age of 18.

It is pretty convincing that heavy exposure to televised violence is one of the causes of aggressive behavior, crime and violence in our society today. I remember reading a story a few years ago in a newspaper that involved a stabbing because of a movie. In a Philadelphia movie theater, when the movie Scream 2 first came out, a teenager stabbed another teenager while watching it. That movie was based on a serial killer who would stab his victims to death. That is pretty convincing evidence that media causes violence among people. Another example involves a shooting of a police officer in Texas about seven years ago. When asked in court why the teen shot the officer he replied something like Tupac s music made me want to kill somebody. Tupac Shakur was a rap artist whose music frequently involved profanity and killing. Television violence affects youngsters of all ages, of both genders, at all economic levels, and all levels of intelligence. I know from experience that this is true. I can remember when I was younger, I would see a movie with violence and then want to imitate and do the things that the star in the movie did. Long-term childhood exposure to television is a casual factor behind one half of the homicides committed by juveniles in the United States.

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The increased availability of guns has also played a big part in escalating the number of crimes committed by juveniles. In Los Angeles, juvenile delinquency cases involving weapon violation grew by 86 percent from 1988 to 1992, which was more than any other type of juvenile offense. According to a Michigan State University study, it was found that 270,000 guns accompany secondary school students to class daily.

This is especially startling because it shows how many juveniles are actually carrying guns. Also, juvenile use of guns in homicides has increased from 65 to 80 percent from 1987 to 1991 http: ojjdp.ncjrs.org action. The possession of firearms plays a big cause in the delinquency of children and is playing a bigger role in the crimes in which juveniles commit.

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While there is no doubt that all of these things can cause juveniles to become delinquent, and the effect being that they go on to commit crimes, there are ways to deter this type of behavior. Many doctors and other experts say that focusing on early intervention and prevention as the key to reducing juvenile crime. Also, giving the offender the appropriate punishment along with the rehabilitation services needed to encourage former criminals can help lead productive lives. The problem ahead now is getting the court to enforce the laws and use the centers available to help out these problem juveniles.

The FBI reports that during the early 1980"s, about two-fifths of all arrests in the United States for burglary and arson were of persons under the age of 18. Juveniles also accounted for about one-third of all arrests for larceny. During any year, about 4 of all children between the ages of 10 and 18 appear in a juvenile court. The percentage of youngsters in this group who are sent to court at least once is much higher. A third or more of those boys living in the slum areas of large cities may appear in a juvenile court at least once. Girls are becoming increasingly involved in juvenile delinquency. Today, about one of every five youngsters appearing in juvenile court is a girl. In the early 1900"s, this ratio was about 1 girl to every 50 or 60 boys. Sociologists have conducted a number of studies to determine how much delinquency is not reported to the police. Most youngsters report taking part in one or more delinquent acts, though a majority of the offenses are minor. Experts have concluded that youthful misbehavior is much more common than is indicated by arrest records and juvenile court statistics. Many studies have been made in an effort to determine the causes of delinquency.

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Most of these have focused on family relationships or on neighborhood or community conditions. The results of these investigations have shown that it is doubtful that any child becomes a delinquent for any single reason. Family Relationships, especially those between parents and individual children, have been the focus of several delinquency studies. An early study comparing delinquent and non delinquent brothers showed that over 90 of the delinquents had unhappy home lives and felt discontented with their life circumstances. Only 13 of their brothers felt this way. Whatever the nature of the delinquents" unhappiness, delinquency appeared to them to be a solution. It brought attention to youths neglected by their parents, or approval by delinquent friends, or it solved problems of an unhappy home life in other ways. More recent studies have revealed that many delinquents had parents with whom they did not get along or who were inconsistent in their patterns of discipline and punishment.

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Neighborhood conditions have been stressed in studies by sociologists. Many of these inquiries concentrate on differing rates of delinquency, rather than on the way individuals become delinquents. A series of studies have shown that delinquency rates are above average in the poorest sections of cities. Such areas have many broken homes and a high rate of alcoholism. They also have poor schools, high unemployment, few recreational facilities, and high crime rates. Many young people see delinquency as their only escape from boredom, poverty, and other problems. Social scientists have also studied the influence of other youngsters on those who commit delinquencies. For example, they point out that most youngsters who engage in delinquent behavior do so with other juveniles and often in organized gangs. Studies indicate that the causes of delinquency also extend to a whole society. For example, delinquency rates tend to be high among the low-income groups in societies where most people are well-to-do.

The pain of being poor and living in slum conditions are felt more strongly in a rich society than in a poor one. Many efforts have been made to develop programs of delinquency prevention. There is little evidence, however, that any of these programs is truly effective. Some programs provide counseling services to youths who appear to be on the verge of becoming delinquents. Other programs draw youngsters into clubs and recreational centers in an effort to keep them away from situations in which delinquency is likely to occur. In recent years, many efforts have centered on improving the educational and work skills of youngsters. For those juveniles who have already become delinquents, there are programs designed to prevent them from committing future delinquent acts. Probation services are offered through juvenile courts in an effort to provide guidance for delinquent children. The more progressive institutions for juveniles attempt to provide treatment programs for offenders--work experiences, counseling, education, and group therapy. However, many other institutions provide little more than protective custody for juvenile delinquents.

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In conclusion, I have defined juvenile delinquency, explained the extent of juvenile delinquency, gave some suggestions on what causes juvenile delinquency, and what is being done in various communities to deal with the problem of juvenile delinquency.


Mulvey, E. The prevention and treatment of juvenile delinquency, Clinical Psychology Review, 1993.

Edward P. Prevention of Juvenile Delinquency, The Prevention Researcher, 1997.

Regoli, Robert M. Delinquency in Society, 6th ed., 2006.

Siegel, J Larry. Juvenile Delinquency with Infotrac: theory, practices and law, 2002.

United Nations, Research Report on Juvenile Delinquency.

Zigler, E. Early childhood intervention: A promising preventative for juvenile delinquency, Am Psychol, 2002.

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